In the Shadow of Memory

"The act of imagination is bound up with memory." —Toni Morrison

Danté Stewart
Danté Stewart is a writer and speaker. He is currently studying at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. You can reach him at


It is something that my granddad has lost. His memory is a faint picture, a brief remembrance of that which was. He has dementia. It’s quite a painful thing to watch. There are moments of joy but also moments of sadness. Like that time when I came home to visit and he didn’t know who I was. All of the good times we had seemed to fade away each passing day.

But not all was lost. I asked him recently, as we were laughing together on the couch, “Granddaddy, do you still got your dance moves?” He paused, as one trying hard to travel down memory lane. He rubbed his bald head, looked at me in a way that spoke more than words. “I don’t know. But I’m still here.”

I’m still here.

That struck me. He may have lost some things, but he’s still here. That is our story. Our black story. The story this nation, and its people, have tried to steal from us. We have lost, but we remember. Maybe that is why memory is so powerful: it is the unbreakable cord that binds the pains of the past to the problems of the present and the possibilities of the future. Memory has a particular way of allowing us to ponder the actual and imagine the possible.

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